For instance people have mentioned that they know the basics of pruning a bonsai and have experience of pruning other plants in the garden to remove dead growth or branches that are growing in the wrong direction.
The problem they have is a bit more fundamental around the artistry of the bonsai tree design. How do they know what shape the tree should be, they don’t have the eye! Whatever that means.
Well if any of you read the last article there is no need to let your bonsai tree grow for ten years before you get a feel for the shape it should be, however there are some guidelines you can follow that will help.
1) The variety of tree, the formal bonsai shapes such as formal upright, slanting and cascade are more suited to specific species of tree than others. So do some research decide on the style you want then choose a suitable bonsai tree variety.
2) Next, look at lots of pictures of bonsai trees and study bonsai you see, try to get a feel for the classic lines and structure that is used. You will find it doesn’t take that long to be able to spot typical shapes a tree could form. They may not end up winning competions but so what, it will bring you satisfaction.
3) Study nature and full size trees you see as you are out and about. This is my preferred method. A lot of bonsai experts and masters prefer to look at trees without any foliage for precisely this reason they can see the true form and structure of the tree. It is like an architect looking at the structure of a building, they can admire its true design the rest is just decoration.
A couple of examples for you to consider, first recently I have noticed a lot of Jin on trees as I pass them near where I live. Jin are dead branches or stumps that are devoid of bark and can be seen on bonsai and deliberately introduced if desired, to give the impresion of age. Well one in particular has caught my eye so I have taken a photo and will be adding it to a bonsai tree in the future that seems to have a branch in a similar position, or one I can grow.
In another instance I recently travelled to the coast and whilst driving noticed all the trees leaning inland away from the obviously regular coastal wind. This gave rise to some tremendous shapes similar to the photos shown. You bet I will be using these as inspiration in the future.
Lets remember Bonsai are supposed to represent full size trees growing wild so where best to take design tips and inspiration from than natural growing trees themselves.